Apart from a frosty start this morning, we’ve had another mild January so far and it seems set to continue for the next week or so at least.
That means the ground is workable and although we’re moving more and more towards no-dig growing for our main plot, there are still some mildly invasive jobs that need to be done whilst the weather allows.
Here’s what we’ve been working on or are planning for this month (any links are to further blog posts on the subject):
Jobs On Plot #59 (main plot)
- Soft fruit section re-vamp – we’re re-planting our strawberries and raspberries, dividing and re-planting some of our rhubarb and adding lingonberries.
- Annual willow coppicing – every year we take it right down to the stump and every year it throws up 12’15 feet of new growth. Astonishing.
- Central path laying – there are another 7 or 8 3×2′ industrial-grade concrete slabs waiting to be bedded down, but the base needs digging out first and sand spreading.
- Clearing grass – a lack of time at the plot last year has led to a resurgence of grass in a few places. I plan to scrape it back and use the rough turf in a hugelkultur-style growing mound.
- Plant shallots – I fully intended to get some shallot bulbs in the ground in mid-December but didn’t get around to it. Better to get them in a bit late than never.
Jobs On Plot #79 (orchard)
- Formative Pruning – it’s the right time of year, as long as no heavy frosts are forecast – to carefully prune the still-very-young apple, pear, medlar and quince trees on our orchard plot. They were only planted last winter, so they’re still very much at the structural shaping stage.
- Path repair – the flag path between plot #79 and the next-door neighbour is in a pretty poor state of repair. It needs lifting, digging out, re-sanding and re-laying. A gradual job to do over the next few months, I reckon.
Jobs at Home
- Propagator setup – it’s time to get the heated propagators back out of the shed, give them a wipe-down with citrox and check they’re still in good working order.
- Sowing: chillis – Capsicum annuum / chinense / baccatum all need a long growing season if they’re to fruit well here in north Manchester, so starting the seeds off now under heat and then growing them on in the protection of the propagator until summer is the way to go.
- Sowing: onions – my dad-in-law swears by starting onions off early so I’m going to give it a go this year. I also have some ‘potato onion’ (possibly shallot, we’ll see) seeds from the US, courtesy of Alex Taylor the Air-Pot Gardener, although I’ll maybe wait on sowing those for a while.
- Sowing: windowsill herbs – I’ve had a couple of packets of veg meant to be suitable for ‘microgreens’ in the seed-box for a while now, so I might give them a go.
- Pot and label cleaning – if the weather deteriorates it’ll be time to get out the scrubbing brush and mild detergent to clean up a batch of seed trays, pots and plant labels, ready for Spring.
- Greenhouse cleaning – the 10′ x 8′ at home and the 6′ x 6′ at the plot will both need a good scrub down to clear out the winter crud.
- Sowing early herbs & veg – there are a few hardy or longer-season crops that can be started off in February or early March and it’s always good to feel like you’re getting going for the season.
- Manuring for squash and beans – I’m planning to grow all sorts of interesting squash and bean cultivars again this year. They’re both hungry plants, so it’s worth manuring the ground well in advance. Not too early though as our soil is quite sandy, so there’s a risk that winter rain will leach a lot of the added nutrient from the soil before the plants need it.
How about you? What are you up to this month? Let us know via the Comments…